Firefighter apologizes for Instagram comment on mass shooting

Investigation of Jacksonville firefighter's questionable post ends in reprimand

By Lynnsey Gardner - Investigative reporter, Vic Micolucci - I-TEAM reporter, anchor

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A Jacksonville Fire and Rescue engineer under investigation over a questionable social media comment about a recent mass shooting apologized to the department and was issued a written letter of reprimand.

Engineer Pat Schneider replied to a News4Jax Instagram post on the drive-by shooting, which wounded five men and one woman, saying "About time, Jesus it's been weeks since we had a good shooting. #gottakeepthatstreetcred"

The comment, which was later deleted, sparked outrage from a News4Jax viewer who asked the I-TEAM to investigate.

JFRD Fire Chief Kurt Wilson confirmed Schneider made the post, and an internal investigation found that the post violated the city of Jacksonville's social media directive. Schneider was issued a written letter of reprimand.

READ: Written reprimand for Engineer Pat Schneider

City employees, including firefighters, must abide by a city policy on social media, which reads in part, "although there is no restriction on the personal use of social media outside the office, good judgment is encouraged."

READ: Jacksonville policy on social media use for city employees

It also reads, "Employees may be subject to disciplinary action for social media activity referring to any city office... city employees ... or citizens,” which falls under several categories, including obscene, defamatory, threatens violence or is likely to create a real threat of immediate disruption in the workplace.

Schneider sent the following apology email, addressed to Wilson:

I whole heartily apologize for my social media post, which was not intended to be sincere. My satire was not conveyed through the post the way I intended, and I offended numerous people. My intention was to show my frustration with the continued violence in the city that I serve. I have responded to these exact types of calls, and know firsthand the type of stress and pressure it puts on the city’s first responders.
 

In the end, my thoughts and prayers are with the family and victims of this heinous crime and any other victims of senseless crimes in our great city."

-Eng. Pat Schneider

Randy Wyse, president of the Jacksonville Association of Firefighters, said the post was not the best way for Schneider to vent his frustration, but that his frustration is shared by many first responders.

"When you are responding to these kind of calls day in and day out, that frustration builds and that stress builds," Wyse said. "This is just something that -- he wishes he could take it back. Obviously, he knows it wasn’t the right thing to do."

Schneider had no prior disciplinary issues in his personnel file with the city. He's been with JFRD since September 2015 and earlier this year he was part of a heroic rescue of two workers stranded at the top of the BB&T building downtown.

Wyse said Schneider is a hard worker and a great first responder who has learned his lesson.

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